The government was working to draft laws not only in sound legal terminology but also in popular language that makes it easy for citizens to understand the law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. He also urged State governments to repeal “obsolete and archaic laws”.
Addressing the inaugural session of a joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, he pointed out that nearly three-and-half lakh undertrials were in jails for petty offences, and appealed to the Chief Ministers and Chief Justices to give priority to such cases so that such prisoners could be released on bail. “I would appeal to all of them to give priority to these matters on the basis of humanitarian sensibility and the law.”
The Prime Minister talked about the need to use local languages in courts, stressed on moving towards digital delivery of justice systems, importance of mediation and reiterated his government’s effort to improve judicial infrastructure and judicial strength.
Apart from Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Supreme Court judges, Chief Justices of High Courts and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, several Chief Ministers attended the meet.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren, Assam’s Himanta Biswa Sarma and Punjab’s Bhagwant Mann were among those who participated in the conference.
Appealing to the State governments to repeal archaic laws, Mr. Modi observed, “In 2015, we identified about 1,800 laws which had become irrelevant/obsolete. Out of these, 1,450 such laws of the Centre were abolished. But only 75 such laws have been abolished by the States”.
The Prime Minister said 75 years of Independence have continuously clarified the roles and responsibilities of both the judiciary and the executive, and wherever it was necessary, the relationship had evolved continuously to give directions to the country
“In our country, while the role of the judiciary is that of the guardian of the Constitution, the legislature represents the aspirations of the citizens. I believe that the confluence and balance of these two branches will prepare the road map for an effective and time-bound judicial delivery system in the country,” he stated.
‘Indianisation’ of courts
Speaking after Justice Ramana, who had earlier suggested “Indianisation” of courts by using regional and local languages, Mr. Modi carried forward the theme and noted that the government was working on drafting legislations in two formats -- one in typical legal language and the other in simple language which could be understood by ordinary people. The practice was followed in several countries and both the formats were considered as legally acceptable, he stressed.
“We need to encourage local languages in courts. This will not only increase the confidence of common citizens in the justice system but they will feel more connected to it,” he said. Referring to Justice Ramana’s speech, he remarked, “newspapers have got a positive headline”.
The focus should be on what kind of a legal system the country aspired for by 2047 when it completes 100 years of its Independence. “Our vision in Amrit Kaal should be of such a judicial system in which there is easy justice, speedy justice, and justice for all,” he stated.
Use of technologies
Talking about using technologies in judiciary, he gave the example of success of digital transactions in small towns and villages and asserted that 40 percent of global digital transactions last year was from India.
Mr. Modi noted that law schools of many countries now taught subjects such as Blockchains, Electronic Discovery, Cybersecurity, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Bioethics. “It is our responsibility that in our country also, legal education should be according to these international standards,” he said.
Delivering the welcome address, Mr. Rijiju said the conference provided for an honest and constructive dialogue between the judiciary and the government for an efficient delivery of justice.